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Inside Don Perata’s mayoral election defeat

So former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata – who entered Oakland’s mayoral race with big-time name recognition and fundraising prowess, and who outspent all his rivals enormously – lost the race to City Councilmember Jean Quan. He conceded this morning.

This was Oakland’s first foray into ranked-choice voting, and there were 10 candidates in the field. Perata held the lead in every elimination round until the last, when City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan was cut and her supporters’ second and third choices broke almost three-to-one in Quan’s favor, catapulting her past Perata to win.

In the end, Perata’s somewhat polarizing personality and past may have proved to be his undoing, as many had predicted could happen. People tend to either love him or hate him, with not many in between; those who love him were quick to name him their top choice, and the rest were much less likely to write him in somewhere below.

John Whitehurst, a longtime Perata consultant who was one of three paid by the mayoral campaign, was still shaking his head later Thursday, and basically said his only mistake was not attacking Quan and Kaplan more.

“It’s still hard for me to swallow the fact that we won by 11,000 votes, 10 percent of the vote, and the person that won the election lost in 80 percent of the precincts,” he said.

But Perata didn’t “win” by 11,000 votes – he finished that far ahead in the first round, putting him nowhere close to the 50 percent mark he’d have had to exceed to win outright.

“The purpose of the ranked-choice voting was to make the campaigns shorter, less expensive and less negative and all three turned out to be completely false,” Whitehurst complained, saying that all the new method accomplished was to turn the election into an episode of the reality television show “Survivor,” in which candidates had to build alliances to outlast their rivals.

“Hindsight is always 20-20, and if I were to run the election again, I would’ve gone negative on Jean and negative on Rebecca the way that they went negative on Don,” he continued, noting none of Perata’s campaign literature attacked his rivals.

He acknowledged there were direct mail pieces sent out by independent expenditure committees that attacked Quan, but he said that of a dozen mailings that Quan sent out, 10 attacked Perata in some way.

“We invested a ton of money in field operations,” Whitehurst said. “Jean pretty hypocritically today said hers was a grassroots campaign, but she didn’t have a grassroots campaign, she put out 12 pieces of mail of which 10 were negative.”

Some might find it hard to see how Perata – who outspent Quan by far – was more “grassroots” than Quan, who had a smaller bankroll but still had a substantial number of volunteers pounding the pavement for her. Asked why Perata was paying three different consultants for the same campaign, Whitehurst replied he was only paid about $1,000 per month.

“I was cheaper for that campaign than a basic field organizer was, so don’t go there,” he said. “A campaign that does not have organizers is not a serious grassroots campaign.”

Whitehurst said he believes this outcome will sour Oakland’s electorate on ranked-choice voting. “This is the first time that instant-runoff voting has produced this result. It happened in San Francisco too, and I think you might see people taking another look at the system now that, in three elections, the first place winner didn’t win the race.”

“I think less than 5 percent of the people understand ranked-choice voting; walk outside the office and ask somebody how it works, I don’t think they’ll know,” he charged. “Choosing a leader is not about a game of ‘Survivor’ on TV, y’know? It’s just not.”

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Kaplan wins youths’ mock Oakland mayoral vote

My colleague, Katy Murphy, covered an Oakland youth candidate forum and mock election featuring three of the top four Oakland mayoral candidates; she posted this video to her excellent blog, The Education Report, but we thought all you political junkies might enjoy it too:

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Perata launches first TV ad of mayoral campaign

Former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata over the weekend launched the first television ad of the Oakland mayoral campaign:

Perata campaign spokesman Rhys Williams wouldn’t discuss the ad buy’s size: “We don’t disclose strategy to other campaigns – directly or via press – but it will be on air enough for all Oaklanders to have an opportunity to see it.”

Meanwhile, mayoral candidate and Oakland Councilwoman Jean Quan – whom a poll last week showed running a close second to Perata – is busy pounding the pavement (and getting her purse snatched) as well as putting a lot of direct mail in the field.

One recent mailer, a “Meet Jean Quan” piece, is a positive piece touting her record and promising to cut the mayor’s salary by 25 percent, make no back-room deals, be accessible to the public, support local schools with a volunteerism drive and get more police officers out from behind desks and onto the streets.

The other recent mailer, “Which way, Oakland?”, goes negative on Perata, noting that he was the subject of a years-long FBI investigation, helped engineer the Raiders deal that cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars, paid his son with campaign funds and has collected a tidy sum as a consultant to the state prison guards union.

That piece latter directs readers to www.notdon.org, a “Anybody But Perata for Mayor of Oakland” site that says it’s “an independent website not affiliated with any political officeholder or candidate or political campaign.” The site is run by Jesse Douglas Allen-Taylor, an Oakland-based columnist perhaps best known for his work in the now-defunct UrbanView newspaper and then in the Berkeley Daily Planet; he also runs the “How Very Jerry” website collecting about 75 pieces he wrote about Jerry Brown’s Oakland mayoral administration.

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Perata likes Jerry Brown, local columnist doesn’t

Don and JerryOakland mayoral candidate and former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata gave $15,000 on Friday to Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jerry Brown’s campaign. Don’t worry – even with his own campaign to run this year, the Don isn’t strapped for cash, seeing as how the consulting firm he runs with his son has pulled down almost $349,000 from the state prison guards’ union since the start of last year. (On a related note, I’d not noticed before that the California Correctional Peace Officers Association’s Truth in American Government Fund – one of the two CCPOA funds that paid Perata consulting – also made a $50,000 civic donation in January 2009 to Avalon Village, an Alameda nonprofit providing concierge-like assistance to seniors living in their own homes. Perata’s Hope 2010 ballot measure committee, supporting the tobacco-tax-for-cancer-research initiative he’s helping to put on the 2012 ballot, gave $50,000 to Avalon Village this March; Avalon Village and another agency to which Hope 2010 gave money are headed by a former Perata aide and possible past paramour.)

Meanwhile, the Perata campaign continues its grassroots organizing: The candidate tweeted this morning to thank the 107 volunteers who took part Saturday in a cleanup of East Oakland’s Sobrante Park area, carting away 5,280 gallons of trash. The next Perata community cleanup is scheduled for 10 a.m. this Saturday, July 31 at Shiloh Church, 3295 School St.; others are set for every Saturday in August.

But his electoral rivals are pounding the pavement as well. City Councilwoman Jean Quan held a community meeting in East Oakland on Saturday and a house party in North Oakland on Sunday; City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan is holding a fundraiser this Wednesday evening at Everett & Jones Barbecue, 126 Broadway.

In other Jerry news, Oakland columnist J. Douglas Allen-Taylor has launched a “How Very Jerry” website collecting about 75 pieces he wrote about Brown’s Oakland mayoral administration, first for the now-defunct UrbanView newspaper and then for the Berkeley Daily Planet. Says Allen-Taylor in introducing the site:

Just like Jerry Brown, too many high-placed Democratic officeholders too often abandon the traditions and philosophies of the Democratic party when carrying out their official duties these days, hoping that progressives will keep quiet in the November elections to keep from giving aid and comfort to conservatives and Republicans.
But if we always keep quiet, how will this pattern ever end?

Oakland is my home town. I love the city and its people too much to keep quiet when its public officials abuse the power we have given them. And so I choose not to hold my tongue about the years of the Jerry Brown Administration in Oakland.

The columns speak for themselves, and no other explanation is necessary.

It is possible that this website might help the campaign of Republican Meg Whitman who, if anything, would be a worse California governor than Jerry Brown, in my opinion. That cannot be helped. Voters should always go into the booth with their eyes open. If Jerry Brown is to be our next governor, at least Californians should not be able to say that we have not been properly warned.

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Don Perata looks for a few good phone-bankers

Former state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata is stepping up his Oakland mayoral campaign, issuing an appeal for volunteers to work the phones for him.

Perata has been building his visibility with a series of cleanups (including this one, wherein KTVU inexplicably seems to think 66th Avenue is downtown), trying to create an engaged, hands-on image to contrast with that of current Mayor Ron Dellums.

Perata’s electoral rivals aren’t letting any grass grow under their feet either (and, no, that’s not a marijuana reference).

City Councilwoman Jean Quan is rallying her campaign volunteers at an office-warming party at 7 p.m. tomorrow (Wednesday, July 14) at 3237 Grand Ave. And City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan is taking part in a public-safety issues forum at 7 p.m. this Thursday, July 15, in the Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church, 3534 Lakeshore Ave.

Read Perata’s Facebook appeal, after the jump…
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Rocky hearing ahead for proposed DA appointee?

As reported here earlier, Alameda County District Attorney Tom Orloff announced his resignation this week, urging the Board of Supervisors to appoint Chief Assistant District Attorney Nancy O’Malley as his replacement as soon as this coming week. This, of course, would let O’Malley have more than nine months as in incumbent before she must win an election to keep the post next year.

But at least one local official isn’t comfortable with what some have called an “appoint-and-annoint” succession. I just received a note said to have been forwarded from Oakland City Councilwoman Desley Brooks, urging people to come out and be heard on this.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors will appoint a new District Attorney Tuesday, September 15, 2009, at 9:00 am. The item is #8A on their agenda. They appear set to appoint Nancy O’Malley at the request of Tom Orloff.

This is an elected position. While the Board has the authority to appoint; it should only do so pursuant to a public process. In the instant case they are making an appointment with less than a week’s public notice and without a public process.

We need to pack the Board chambers on Tuesday and demand a public process for the selection process. Please help turn out as many people as you can. This position is too important for them to make this appointment in secret.

Let me know what you can do to help.

Thanks so much.

Desley

Brooks was among a few local officials who have rallied with those protesting the New Year’s Day slaying of Oscar Grant III by then-BART Police Officer Johannes Mehserle; Orloff took heat from those protestors for waiting two weeks after the shooting to charge Mehserle with murder, and is still under fire from some for not also charging Officer Tony Pirone, who also was involved the fracas that led up to the shooting. I see Brooks attended at least one meeting at which an effort to recall Orloff was discussed; it’s not surprising she wants to slow down his hand-picked successor’s appointment.

UPDATE @ 9:17 P.M. FRIDAY: Oakland City Councilwoman Rebecca Kaplan concurs, according to an e-mail I received from her about an hour ago.

I also agree, that it is essential that there be a rational and fair process to fill the position of Alameda County District Attorney. Particularly given that the D.A. is an elected position, and also how important the role of the DA is, for our ability to improve public safety and restore public trust of police and prosecutors here in our city, and ensure protection from crime.

My view, in support of a fair process, is NOT based on supporting, or opposing, any particular potential candidate for the job — but rather, given the extreme importance of this job, it seems essential to at least have a selection procedure that is fair and coherent.

We are talking about giving someone a job in which they literally hold the power of life and death over people — surely choosing someone for such a role should require NO LESS of a process than is required to get a job — any job. To just appoint someone on Tuesday, with no process, and without allowing anyone to apply, would mean someone is chosen for a role of incredible importance and responsibility without even as much process as it takes to get a job at Burger King — and without even as much process as it takes to get an endorsement from a political club when running for office.

In terms of Solutions to this problem, I could envision two options:

1) Like with Senator Kennedy’s seat, appoint a “caretaker” for the interim, on the basis of it being a person who WILL NOT RUN for the seat, and therefore, this would allow an open and fair election next year.

2) If option 1 doesn’t seam viable, then AT LEAST if the Board of Supervisors is going to take their Power to Select someone for this incredibly important position, there should at least be a reasonable application and selection process. People must be allowed to apply, be interviewed, etc, and then a selection made on a fair basis.

FOR EXAMPLE: When AC Transit Board fills a mid-term vacancy (as recently happened when I left AC Transit to join the Oakland City Council) there is a process which includes an application period and application packet and interviews, etc. This should be the least we should expect in the process of selecting a D.A.